“The Shadow”

The Shadow metaphor signifies chaos and wildness of character, unknown and potentially troubling.

In myth, it appears as the wild man, mysterious fighters and dark enemies.

The Shadow is not an “I” that we can dialogue with, The Shadow is an “IT”, a psychodynamic defence process or space in which that which is disowned or disassociated from is hidden.

Robert Bly offers a great description of The Shadow as a process;

“As a child we have a 360º ball of energy, but as we are told by our parents to; “Keep still!” – “Smile!” – “Not speak until you are spoken too!”, we put the parent-offending activity into a bag that we drag behind us.”

And dragging that bag takes a little bit of our energy. As we move through school, each time we are told “that is wrong”, “don’t be/act like that”, we put the offending characteristic in the bag.

By the time we are fully grown we are using most of the 360% ball of light energy not only in dragging our bag around but also keeping a tight hold on all the badness that might escape out.

We no longer have any energy left to support our growing development, and over time we become so accustomed to pulling the bag we forget that it ever existed.

We repress what we feel to be negative.  This can be both the (life) script statements “I must not be angry” and “I must hide my light”.

We repress not only negative aspects, but positive aspects also.